Mar. 23rd, 2011

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My office is undergoing renovation in stages.

There's a window of opportunity for me to try and fill in some pieces in the Bob, Mary, and Martha Dunn mystery.

It's time for the rubber to meet the road. Next Thursday and Friday, I'm taking leave from the office and going to Hot Spring and Clark counties to try and get some answers. My Callaway cousin, Joe, is going to shepherd me through the Special Collections section of Ouachita Baptist University.

I'm also going to be cold-calling a cousin who lives in Arkadelphia who has never heard of me. I understand he may have some answers - and maybe even some documents and pictures.

I can hardly wait...

You too can create a puzzle out of one of your own family photos by going here.
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It wasn't until I ran across the old images from the U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War at the Library of Congress website that I had ever heard of such a thing.

Women preparing corn outside a community canning kitchen in Atkins, AR in 1935

Arkansas community canning kitchen, August 1935

According to Rethinking home economics: women and the history of a profession (Stage and Vincenti, publ. Cornell University Press, 1997), community canning kitchens sprang up in many areas across the United States during the Depression and continued in operation into the World War II era. "Community gardens and canning kitchens were excellent ways to assist unemployed families without the shame that usually accompanied accepting relief." (See page 161.)

When my son was very young and I was a stay-at-home mom, I grew a garden and canned for several years, sharing the chore with my next door neighbor. (We'd take turns heating and messing up each other's kitchens. The results were wonderful and very satisfying.)

But my canner was not nearly the size of the one in this Johnson Co., AR community canning kitchen:

Interior of community canning kitchen in Johnson Co., AR - August 1935

As I was preparing to write this entry, Google searches revealed that there may be a resurgence in the concept of community canning kitchens today.

Oh, those cycles...they just keep coming around, don't they?


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Dee Burris Blakley

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